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KUALA LUMPUR: The Public-Private Research Network (PPRN) will be a catalyst for innovation, knowledge-sharing and technological advancement for local companies once it goes into full gear next year.

The PPRN, first announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak when he tabled the 2015 budget, is currently in its second pilot test.

The initiative is a collaboration between the Education Ministry, Malaysian Technology Development Corporation, SME Corp and private industries.

Speaking at a press conference on the project, Education Ministry secretary-general II Datuk Seri Zaini Ujang said PPRN would bridge the gap between the needs of the industries and the knowledge of academics.

He said there were over 40,000 lecturers and researchers in the country but a lot of research related to technology and industries was supply-driven.

“We want to shift to more demand-driven research,” he said, adding that the PPRN would seek to solve specific issues faced by companies in relation to the application of technology.

He said that aside from the matching role it played, PPRN would also create an ecosystem of knowledge in the country at a cost advantage to local companies.

The government has allocated RM50 million for research grants, but the cost of each research would be borne by both the company involved and the government.

Also at the press conference was PPRN advisor Prof Diego Comin, who said Malaysian companies needed to invest more in technology in order to be more competitive.

Comin said there were three main problems faced by companies in this respect, such as looking for a researcher, drawing up a contract to protect intellectual properties and encapsulating knowledge spillover.

He said there were also cases where researchers had been pushed to develop new products and failed, as they lacked other skills and knowledge, such as marketing and management.

This, he said, was where PPRN could play a role, by bridging the gap between industries and academicians, and helping draw up contracts between the parties involved.

Comin predicted that PPRN would act as a catalyst for companies to work more with academicians in the future, as well as create job opportunities in which companies hired academicians to work directly for them.

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